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A non-active treatment used in clinical trials so the effect of being treated can be distinguished from the effect the active treatment being tested. Necessary because the effect of being treated often induces significant improvement even when the treatment has no demonstrable activity.

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people have a larger expectation that a treatment will work, then the placebo effect will be stronger. E.g. in this study the effects of oxygen was compared to placebo oxygen in the treatment of high … -altitude headache. It was found that the effect of the placebo oxygen was stronger, involving more biochemical pathways, if the patient had previously been given real oxygen. See also this article. …
answered Nov 20 '16 by Count Iblis